Blueprint >> Normalize Expectations

Disclaimer: This document is in raw form as I process and distill 4 years-worth of my personal development notes. Expect some typos and cryptic language for now. I will be updating frequently and polishing up.

Prescription: Set proper expectations.
Related Concepts: Be Patient, Mastery, Failure is Good

What is Normalize Expectations?

The idea that you should normalize your expectations when working on an important project. Expectations control how you feel you are doing and when you feel like quitting.

Why is it Important?

Unrealistic expectations make you feel like you're failing, making you more likely to quit.

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Coach Leo Gura
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Normalize Expectations: Key Points

Your performance and your ability to perform consistently over long periods of time is greatly influenced by how well you think you're performing, and that depends on the expectation you set for yourself. It's very possible to set yourself up for failure right from the get-go by setting unrealistic expectations. If you expect to become a doctor after 1 year of college, you've as good as failed. If you expect to single-handedly build a 100-story skyscraper, you've as good as failed. If you expect to become a good pianist after 1 year of practice, you've as good as failed. If you set such unrealistic expectations, you will inevitably quit a few months down the line as you start to see how impossible your expectations are too meet. Or you will put more and more pressure on yourself to increase the pace until you burn out.

Setting proper expectations is tricky because it is certainly possible to be too conservative. You need to strike a balance between optimism and realism. There's nothing wrong setting an optimistic goal like, "I will be the best basketball player in the world." Statistically, this is very unlikely. Chances are you won't be the best basketball player in the world, or even in the top 100, but it's okay because this goal has heart and is in fact possible if you're willing to do the work. And even if you fail, you will can still do very well because you show a willingness to work for it. But there is a huge problem with setting a goal with a totally unrealistic timeframe like, "I will become

Look around you to see roughly how much time and how much work it takes other people to accomplish what you've set yourself out to accomplish. Don't let that limit you, but be informed about what it takes. Most people underestimate the work involved in achieving something. If it takes 8 years of medical school for the average doctors, that's probably how long it will take you, unless you've got some ace up your sleeve.

Don't attach time limits to large goals. You simply can't know how long it will take you to achieve something large that hasn't been done before. The key is to make your goal so meaningful and important that it will be worth accomplishing even if you're two or three times behind schedule. If you goal is big enough, like to become an A-list Hollywood actor, it doesn't really matter if you accomplish it in 3 years or 10 years. It would be great no matter how long it took to accomplish. Be aware of goals that are only worthwhile to you if you accomplish them within a certain narrow time limit.

Contemplate this: a major goal will take 5 months to 6 years to accomplish. 1 How does that change your expectations? How does that change the pressure you're putting on yourself? How does that can you thinking about pacing and the need for persistence? We are not very good at thinking in time spans of over 1 year, but that's critical to your success.


  1. Mastery, George Leonard
  2. Mind Power, John Kehoe
Coach Leo Gura
Hire me as your coach. Super-charge your life. Email me now!
  • Redesign your life to align with your purpose
  • Mindsets and tools for exceptional success